“Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind.
Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru
Late last year UK’s president chose to cover a well-known mural in Memorial Hall painted by UK Alumna Ann Rice O’Hanlon. This he did in response to discomfort voiced by a variety of campus groups. The reason they’re displeased with the image created in 1934 as part of the WPA is because it depicts Kentucky’s history. In that history are black slaves and native american indians, and in the painting those slaves and indians are represented. How they’re represented is unlikely the way an artist would portray them today, but like it or not, slaves and indians were instrumental to the making of Kentucky. Would it be a greater or lesser sin to leave them out entirely? A little more than a week after the president announced the covering of the painting (presumably until the University could decide how best to deal with it since it’s a WPA work of value), another announcement was released declaring the decision would be reversed. BFF Reinette Jones is working on a publication about the mural. Yesterday, she and I made our way to Memorial Hall to photograph it. We arrived to find the fresco still under wraps nearly two months after announcing it would be uncovered. Still, the ironically white sheet draped wall made for a provocative image. Whether one agrees with O’Hanlon’s visual interpretations or not, she did her job well because 80+ years later the fresco is still spurring intellectual exchange. That’s what good art is supposed to do.